Tree Sap, Syrup and Water – What’s the Difference?

July 8, 2022

We use a variety of terms in our research and on this website. Here’s a brief rundown on the basics of plant biology…

Vascular plants have a system of ‘tubes’ that connect all parts of the plant (roots, shoots and leaves) to transport water and nutrients from one part of the plant to another.

The plant microstructures we are most interested in is the xylem. This water conducting tissue is responsible for the upward conduction of water and nutrients from the roots.

Tree sap is like the ‘blood’ of a tree. It is filled with nutrients and minerals and is transported by xylem cells.

Tree sap is different to tree resin, which consists of compounds secreted by or deposited in the tree. Sap is generally a thin watery substance, while resin is an amber-coloured, thick, gooey and tacky. Deciduous trees do not produce resin, they produce sap.

In the production of tree syrups (e.g. maple, birch), sap is collected directly from the tree.

Syrup is produced by boiling water from the tree sap, concentrating it into a sweet, thick, sticky syrup.

Maple (or birch, or other tree) water is a pasteurised version of sap. 


Plant Physiology